Police board may provide funds to keep D.A.R.E. program in local schools

Should local service clubs be strapped for funding, Wellington County Police Services Board chairman Lynda White and Wellington OPP Detachment Commander Scott Smith would like to see Wellington County pick up some of the slack.

On Jan. 27 White said the D.A.R.E. (Drug, Alcohol Resistance Education) program is something which the police board has supported since its inception in Wellington County.

“We all know the economy is just not as good as it was. So some of the service clubs that are paying for this program to come to the schools – are pulling back a little bit.”

White said “We need to make sure if the service clubs can’t be sponsoring this program, that the board would sponsor the program.

“We want to make sure this program continues in our schools in Wellington County.

“There is only one school in Wellington County at this time that is not on board with that,” she said.

“This program just gets better and better,” White maintained.

She explained D.A.R.E. is a drug awareness program which involves an officer going into a grade 6 classroom to teach them about drugs, about bullying, and how to stand up for themselves.

“It’s just a great program that is in our school.”

In his report to the board, Wellington OPP Detachment Commander, Inspector Scott Smith stated “The D.A.R.E. (Drug, Alcohol Resistance Education) program is running effectively across Wellington County.”

He noted that while the cost per student remains relatively low, “the long-term sustainability of the program is dependent upon financial support.”

Currently, the primary funding comes from various service clubs within the county including the Optimists, Rotary and Lions clubs.

In his report, Smith suggested that failure to secure long-term financial support for the DARE programs could result in the program being offered in fewer schools and/or canceled.

His report stated that the program is now operating in 26 elementary schools across Wellington County and that Elora Public is the only school that has not been receptive to this program.

He noted the Wellington detachment also has a member trained to conduct a Grade 8 DARE program which reinforces the previous learning and then spends considerable time teaching consequences.

In 2010, 1,000 students are expected to receive the DARE program for grades 5/6 and the DARE grade 8 program is expected to begin in March and reach 200 students before the end of the 2010-11 school year..

The issues being faced include significant pressures on every organization to support community activities and at the same the financial resources are more difficult to acquire.

Smith stated “This detachment is extremely happy with our partnership with the service organizations in the County in bringing the DARE program to local youth. The overall cost of the program is not great, less than $2,000 per year, but given the current economy and the pressures associated to it there is a need to be proactive in securing future funding for the two DARE programs.”

As such, Smith asked the board to consider long-term funding options as it relates to the DARE program, in the event that the current funding sources are no longer able to provide financial support.

As county councillors adopted the report, Puslinch Mayor Dennis Lever added that he was particularly pleased with the support of the Puslinch Optimists in this program .

“I highly recommend it for the rest of the county endorse this as well. It is an excellent program and the service clubs have supported it so far. Hopefully, they will be able to continue to do so.”

White maintained “I think it is important that the service clubs be part of this. We just wanted to make sure, if they feel they cannot support it anymore, that there is still support for the program.”

She said the connection of the kids, the service clubs and the police remains an important connection.